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Shake-up must look beyond school walls

Sir Alan Steer is absolutely right in suggesting that taking responsibility for their excluded children is a "Dickens of an opportunity" for schools - a scheme in Lancashire has already proved it can work ("Schools should take responsibility for the children they exclude", January 28).

The Lancashire Education Alternative Provision programme has seen high schools take responsibility for young people for whom the classroom has become synonymous with Hard Times and, instead of writing them off, it has found them a different direction.

By being open to the idea that sometimes they need to move that struggling young person in a vocational rather than academic direction, the schools have engaged with employers and alternative providers, offering a programme of classwork, experience on placement and one-to-one training with us at Rathbone. This has resulted in 80 per cent of those who Sir Alan describes as "Artful Dodgers" re-engaging with education.

Peter Gibson, Manager, Rathbone youth charity, Manchester.

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